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As a youngster growing up in South Africa, Rael Bernstein was bashful, withdrawn and didn’t excel with academics or athletics, but orthodontic treatment helped to change his life. Today he is Dr. Rael Bernstein, a successful orthodontist with a burgeoning practice in Santa Rosa and Windsor, Bernstein Orthodontics. Known fondly as Dr. B to his patients, whose ages range from 5 to 85, Dr. B has been a recipient of Best Orthodontist, Sonoma County for over 10-plus years.
“I am a recipient of orthodontic treatment myself,” Dr. B said. “As a kid, I was a shy, introverted young man who really didn’t do well at school or sports.” His own orthodontist, Dr. Morris Fine, taught the young Dr. B the value of applying effort, as in the more effort you put into something, including orthodontic treatment, the more reward you’ll get out of it. The Johannesburg native said he applied this notion to his orthodontic treatment, which turned the process around, and he was blown away by the accompanying life-changing results. “After my orthodontic treatment, I had a new-found confidence,” Dr. B said. “This new confidence really helped me. I worked harder in school, I did better in sports.” Dr. B, a former college rugby player, said studying orthodontics resonated with him because of his personal orthodontic experience, and consequently he decided he wanted to do the same for others.
Dr. B started practicing orthodontics about 27 years ago. He and his wife, Debora Rayhan, a prosthodontist, moved to Santa Rosa when she accepted a position at a local practice. He then started his practice from scratch working out of one rented room in a colleague’s dental office. At the beginning, his wife moonlighted for him as an assistant, at the end of her patient day. “She was my assistant, it was just the two of us,” he said. We worked very hard and still do–another lesson from my orthodontist. Through their hard work and word of mouth, the practice started to grow, and Dr. B opened an office in Santa Rosa.
He opened a satellite office in Windsor in 2007, when he noticed many of his patients were commuting from farther north locations and were driving hours and getting stuck in traffic. Dr. B is proud of the amazing people he gets to work alongside and feels blessed to have such a wonderful, knowledgeable and passionate team. “We work efficiently together using unique systems developed over the years, which allow me to really focus on clinical care.”
Dr. B, who parents two very active teenage daughters with his wife, keeps the focus on patients and puts patient care at the center of the decision-making process. He also does what he can to remove barriers associated with orthodontics, which he said can range from cost and insurance issues to a patient’s comfort level in the dental chair. Dr B’s goal is to improve everyone’s quality of life by improving access to orthodontic care, while creating smiles that last a lifetime, using modern and efficient techniques.
Since he began his career in 1996, Dr. B has treated thousands of patients and along the way received many 5 Star Google Reviews that speak for his work ethic and longevity in the community: “I am glad I chose Bernstein Orthodontics to get braces,” Jennie said in a Google review of Bernstein Orthodontics. “As an adult, I was embarrassed, but the staff have been nothing but kind and helpful. I am recommending them to my friends and family.”
“Bernstein Orthodontics is a wonderful place,” said Kimberly in another Google review. “My daughter and I both had braces treatment here. Dr. B was always available to answer any question we had, and we could always get right in for an appointment if need be. The office is clean and well-decorated for kids and adults (if you’re still a big kid inside).”
Dr. B continues to push himself professionally and lectures to dental organizations, organizes study clubs, has taught at local universities and has improved treatment techniques with a patented bracket system, called the Bernie Brace. “I like to give back and share what we do with as many as we can,” Dr. B said.
Blessed to make a living at what loves to do, he also views himself very much as a member of the communities he serves and gives back generously and meaningfully, a trait inspired by his grandmother. In the past year, Dr. B sponsored Windsor’s summer evening concert series, the CVNL Sonoma County Human Race in Santa Rosa and Windsor’s High school wrestling Championship Tournament. Bernstein Orthodontics also gave away more than 50 Free Cases of braces to those patients without financial means or seeking a better quality of life and boosted confidence. Some residents may recognize his name from helping in the design of the Sonoma County Children’s Museum, where he donated resources to create a kid-friendly dental room where the adorable Kyle the Crocodile lives.
What’s the best part about practicing orthodontics for Dr. B? “By far it’s the reaction–mainly joy and pride–patients and parents have when they see their smiles without braces for the first time. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, to see the boost in confidence our patients receive, and it gives me great satisfaction that my team and I can remove the barriers to make this happen for our patients.”
Bernstein Orthodontics, 2245 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-575-0600, Bernstein Orthodontics, 8741 Brooks Road, South Windsor, 707-836-8360, BernsteinBraces.com.